Some time back I wondered about the lack of support for 2k among Vossians. Recently over at Reformed Forum Jared Oliphint seemed to give some eschatological encouragement to 2kers when he wondered about the possibility of redeeming the stuff of creation:
What about the rest of creation? Is it being redeemed? Did Christ accomplish redemption for the rest of creation when he died and was raised?
For those who believe that all of creation is currently being “redeemed” in the eschatological sense, there’s a very simple test to see whether that is in fact the case. As a friend of mine puts it, you are tasked to find a single atom, molecule, object, anything that has the permanence of the everlasting, eternal new heavens and new earth. Such a thing would be indestructible, and would most likely exhibit characteristics that literally indicate an other-world. That would be quite a find.
Or take the language we sometimes find within evangelical circles of “redeeming the city”, for example. Is this appropriate language given what we know of the biblical use of redemption? That depends. People are redeemed by the Holy Spirit regenerating their hearts, having faith in Christ, repenting of their sins, and receiving Christ and his saving and renovating benefits from his accomplished work in history. Christ did not directly accomplish redemption for buildings, neighborhoods, cities, towns, or any other particular group or entity whatsoever. Christ’s benefits do not apply to a local diner or run-down gym. They do not apply to capitalism, to philosophy, to Wal-Mart, to the Icelandic courts of law, or any other non-human not made in the image of God.
Oliphint backs away from some of the implications of this point, but his assertion is one that should prompt the critics of 2k (it is dispensationalist, it is Lutheran, it is defeatist, it doesn’t lead to rallies in the nation’s capital) to pause and reflect. The powers that redemption and its means opposes are not poor working conditions, undrinkable water, economic inequality, or unimaginative artworks. The powers of this age that Christ continues to subdue are those of Satan and his kingdom.
Luther himself deflates any hope for transformationalism in a sermon from 1544:
For [the devil] seeks at all times to take possession of the Kingdom of God and to become lord of Christendom. He will to be seated and to rule, in the pure and holy Temple of God.
What, then, shall we do to him? This we, and especially those who preach the Word of God, should joyfully consider, that we must hope for no peace here, but should recollect that we are Christ’s warriors, in the field, always equipped and ready, for when one war ends another immediately begins.
For we are called by christ and already enroldled (in Baptism) in the army which shall fight under Christ against the devil. For He is the God who is a Prince of war and a true Duke who leads His regiment in battle, not in heaven above among the holy spirits where there is no need of battle, but here on earth in His Church. Yes (even though He is seated at the right hand of the Father) He is Himself with His warriors leading them against the enemy, whom no human power and weapons can withstand, resisting and restraining him with His Word, which He has given to His men.
If culture warriors (i.e., neo-Calvinists, theonomists, and social conservatives) think that reforming society or teaching a biblical w-w of botany are a part of the kingdom coming, then they have forgotten how powerful the enemy is that they battle and they have lost sight of who is responsible for winning the battle.